Hampden Ferrars is an obscure country village, not too distant from Oxford. Its village church, St Clements, is 1,500 years old, and some of the villagers decide that this record of continuity and stability should be celebrated. Many are the difficulties in the way. Foreigners arrive - in particular, two Chinese students and an Italian TV celebrity - and love affairs break out, some suitable, some less suitable. The atmosphere of romance engenders miracles. Slowly, the village becomes involved in magic. Ordinary lives are transformed. Then a threat emanates from within the church itself. The atmosphere darkens as the celebration committee has to decide who is really in command of the world. Brian Aldiss' novel brims with comic and sinister invention. The celebration is not only for St Clements but for Englishness, for the love of the foreign and for love itself.